Monday, September 28, 2015

Approved TDM Plan recommends expanded Bicycle Program and staff

At their September 22 meeting the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Transportation Demand Management Plan 2016-2021 (p. 359). A major recommendation of the plan is funding for a "Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator." This position would be in addition to the existing Bicycle Coordinator and Pedestrian Coordinator positions.

The new position would be "responsible for encouraging walking and biking in Fairfax County, by raising awareness of existing facilities and connectivity, and promoting safe bicycling and pedestrian behaviors." This is in line with recommendations in the Bicycle Master Plan for Bike Fairfax to conduct encouragement and education programs. The existing Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator positions are primarily involved with development of infrastructure projects.

FABB has been advocating for funding for Bike Fairfax since the Bicycle Master Plan was adopted in October 2014. Funding for the Bicycle Program was eliminated in 2010 so almost no funds are available for non-infrastructure activities. We're very encouraged by this latest development.

The TDM Plan includes some minor recommendations to strengthen the Bicycle Program by using TDM funds for providing information on bicycle transportation options and distributing bike lights. Those funds could also be used for purchasing bike counters, a major goal of the Bicycle Master Plan.

From the TDM Plan, starting at page 369:

The Fairfax County Bicycle Program is housed in the FCDOT’s Capital Projects Division. The program’s budget is for capital projects only, and is used primarily for developing bicycle lanes and parking. The countywide Bicycle Master Plan (Phase I for Tysons Corner was completed in 2011)13 includes goals and objectives related to education and outreach. However, without available funding for programming, the Bike Program is looking to develop partnerships to implement outreach and education activities. Over the next few years, the Bike Program hopes to extend the regional Capital Bikeshare system into Fairfax County, starting with bikeshare stations in Reston, Tysons Corner and Merrifield. With the introduction of bikeshare, marketing and education will be even more important. The FCTSG TDM program can help promote bicycling as a transportation option by providing information on bicycle transportation options and bicycle education. FCTSG can also distribute accessories (i.e., bike lights and pant clips) to promote bicycle safety and contact information for the Bicycle Program staff. Another way to support the bicycling in Fairfax County could be to help provide funds for automatic bicycle counters, so that the county can begin to collect data on bicycle (and pedestrian) travel.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Priority: High

This enhancement would fund a dedicated position responsible for encouraging walking and biking in Fairfax County, by raising awareness of existing facilities and connectivity, and promoting safe bicycling and pedestrian behaviors. Fairfax County has invested, and continues to invest in bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure through the capital projects program. However, programming around bicycle and pedestrian transportation – which is critical to encouraging use, particularly among new users – is needed. A dedicated bicycle and pedestrian coordinator would support broad marketing of bicycling, including educational events focused on bicycle safety and promotion of a positive culture and attitudes around bicycling and walking, as well as support in establishment of bike sharing in the county.

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